Today’s Editorial Sept 29: Bars opting for smoke-free

Grand Cayman bars are going smokeless.

The Sapphire Lounge last week followed the lead of the District 6 Nightclub and Lounge by banning smoking inside its premises. District 6 had a no smoking inside policy from when it opened five months ago.

It is interesting to note that neither bar was forced by legislation to ban smoking inside. They made the decision because they thought it was best for business.

That is not to say that smokers are not welcome at Sapphire or District 6; they just have to step outside to smoke.

The decisions by these two establishments pre-empts possible action by the government.

Members of the Cabinet have talked about adopting legislation concerning smoking in public places. Former Health Minister Gilbert McLean raised the issue more than two years ago. Current Health Minister Anthony Eden said last year he intended to bring smoking legislation to the House.

But while the public waits to see just what the Government has in mind or when it might become law, some smart business owners are taking matters into their own hands and banning smoking.

There are many bar owners who fear a smoking ban because they think it will drive away business. Some research suggests, however, that smoking bans can actually increase business because more non-smokers will eat at a restaurant if smoking is banned. And there are more non-smokers in the world than smokers.

Because smoking bans are in place in increasingly more jurisdictions, many people, and especially tourists, expect to find no smoking in bars or restaurants here. Sapphire Lounge has found that high-end tourists are actually attracted to its new policy.

There are other benefits as well.

Establishments smell nicer when they’re smoke-free and they don’t become encrusted with yellow nicotine stains.

Bar and restaurant staff members, as well as patrons, are also protected from the harms of second-hand smoke.

Banning smoking is not about infringing on the rights of smokers, but in protecting the rights of non-smokers.

We don’t know how far the promised smoking legislation will go, or when it will take effect, but it’s good to see elements of the private sector taking the lead in addressing an issue that is increasingly at the forefront in modern countries.

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